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Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills into law that would allow new moms to gain improved access to mental health services.

Signed by Brown on Sept. 30, the Maternal Mental Health bill requires doctors working with pregnant women and new moms to screen these patients for postpartum depression and other mental health conditions. Health insurers must also develop treatment programs for maternal mental health issues and guidelines for obstetricians on what to do when a woman screens positive for a postpartum mood disorder, according to California Health Report.

According Kelly O’Connor Kay of Maternal Mental Health Now — a non-profit organization in Los Angeles — less than one in four women with maternal depression receive treatment for the disorder, usually because they’re never screened for it. The problem, she said, is particularly severe among low-income and immigrant women, as well as domestic violence survivors, who are at highest risk for pregnancy-related mental health problems.

The bill will ultimately help ensure more women get treated for postpartum depression.

The other bill newly signed (SB 1287) addresses children’s mental as well as physical health needs directly. It zeroes in on the medical necessity for children enrolled in Medi-Cal — the state’s health insurance program for low-income residents — and ensures children get broader coverage than adults for a variety of physical, mental and dental health services.

You can read more about both bills on California Health Report’s website.

photo courtesy of American Autism Association